Ben Crow

DivisionSocial Sciences Division
DepartmentSociology Department
AffiliationsCenter for Justice,
Rachel Carson College,
College Nine
650-245-6769 (mobile)
Web Site Interdisciplinary Development Working Group (IDWG)
Atlas of Global Inequalities
UC Atlas of Global Inequality
Faculty Webpage
OfficeRachel Carson College, Sociology, Room 203
Office HoursTuesdays 1:45pm to 3:45, Thursdays 4:15 to 5:15 and by appointment
Campus Mail StopRachel Carson College Faculty Services
Mail1156 High St
Santa Cruz, CA
Ben Crow

Research Interests

Sociology of water, urban deprivation and capability justice, global inequalities, sociology of development.

Biography, Education and Training

1980 - Ph.D., Science/Development, University of Edinburgh

1970 – BSc., Civil Engineering with Honors, Polytechnic of Central London

Ben Crow is a professor of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz. He trained and worked as an engineer in London and Africa, and was an activist and volunteer in South Asia, before becoming a social scientist. His PhD is from Edinburgh University in Scotland, and he taught at the Open University in UK and at Stanford and UC Berkeley before coming to UCSC. He has done research on conflict and cooperation over international rivers in South Asia, leading to a book Sharing the Ganges: the politics and technology of river development; on traders, township markets and the making of social classes in rural Bangladesh (Markets, Class and Social Change: Trading Networks and Poverty in South Asia); on global inequalities (The UC Atlas of Global Inequality (online) and The Atlas of Global Inequalities, with Suresh Lodha). Recent research studies how poor women, men and children gain access to water in urban slums in the global south, with a focus on cities in Kenya. He is in the early stages of a comparative study of cities in the south and north exploring ‘Urban capabilities and the transformation of women’s work.’ 

Honors, Awards and Grants


  • 2011- 2014. UCSC Thumbs Up Award from staff member for chairing Sociology Department.

  • 2005. Academic Senate, Committee on Committees: "Hero of the Academic Senate Award: Dragon Slayer - The Sequel."

  • 2004. Academic Senate, Committee on Committees: "Dragon Slayer Award." Recognizing Senate resolution on 'Cutting Ties with Elsevier' which helped save UC several million dollars.


  • 2013-2015. Co-Principal Investigator:  NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Grant to study Increasing Drought Resilience Under Climate Change. Co-PI: R. Langridge, $293,299.

  • 2012-2014. Co-Principal Investigator: NSF Grant to support workshop on Equitable Water Governance. Funding from NSF Anthropology Program bringing participants from N. America, S. America, Europe and India. Co-PIs: F. Lu and C. Ocampo-Raeder, $55,000.

  • 2009-2012. Co-Principal Investigator: NSF CCLI #0837151 Sustainability Engineering and Ecological Design Learning Partnership (SEED-LP). Co-PIs: R. Lipschutz, A. Shakouri, M. Dupuis, S. Gliessman, $147,303.

  • 2008-2010. Co-Principal Investigator: NSF CCLI #0817589. Renewable Energy and Engaged Interdisciplinary Learning for Sustainability (REELS). Co-PIs: A. Shakouri, C. Bacon, M. Dupuis, J. Kubby, R. Lipschutz, $150,000.

Selected Publications


  • 2011. Atlas of Global Inequalities. Co-authored with S. Lodha. University of California Press.

  • 2001. Markets, Class and Social Change: Trading Networks and Poverty in Rural South Asia. London and New York: Palgrave-Macmillan.

  • 1997. Sharing the Ganges: the Politics and Technology of River Development. 2nd edition. Sage Publications and University Press Bangladesh. Co-authored with A. Lindquist and D. Wilson.

Chapters in Books:

  • 2016 “Water and poverty: pathways of escape and descent” in K. Conca and E. Weinthal (Editors), The Oxford Handbook on Water Politics, Oxford University Press. Co-authored with B. Swallow.

  • 2007. “Social Dynamics of the US Environmental Challenge,” in Gordon Wilson et al (Editors), Sustainability, Open University.

  • 2006. “Statistics,” in Roland Robertson and Jan Aart Scholte (Editors), Encyclopedia of Globalization. Routledge.

  • 2002. "Water: gender and material inequalities in the global south" in Sustainability, Open University, Milton Keynes. Co-authored with J. Beall, S. Simon and G. Wilson. This is a teaching text for the Open University course U213, "International Development: Challenges for a World in Transition."

Journal Articles:


Teaching Interests

Sociology of development.
Nature, Poverty and Progress: Dilemmas of Environment and Development.
Sociology of water.
Famine and Hunger.

Courses Taught

SOCY 15 World Society
SOCY 112 Economic Sociology
SOCY 167 Development & Underdevelopment
SOCY 171 Exploring Global Inequality
SOCY 173 Water
SOCY 179 Nature, Poverty, and Progress
SOCY 184 Hunger and Famine
SOCY 201 Making of Classical Theory
SOCY 220 Global Transformation
SOCY 261 Sociology of Knowledge